Pillsbury Winthrop Moving Legal Work to Nashville

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is hiring a half dozen lawyers for litigation-support work at its back-office operations center in Nashville, the ABA Journal reports. Pillsbury chairman Jim Rishwain says the hiring of the lawyers, as well as a handful of paralegals and consultants, is “another step in the evolution of our business model.”

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
13 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders









You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer.


TN Supreme Court

FLETCHER WHALEY LONG v. BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

John Edward Herbison, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Fletcher Whaley Long.

Krisann Hodges, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Judge: LEE

A Hearing Panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility determined that an attorney had violated multiple disciplinary rules and imposed a public censure. The attorney appealed, and the trial court affirmed the Hearing Panel’s decision. On appeal to this Court, the attorney raises a number of issues, including a facial constitutional challenge to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 9. After reviewing the evidence and the applicable law, we reject the attorney’s constitutional challenge to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 9, and we conclude that his other issues are without merit. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JAMES EDWARD BROWN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Brian Clay Johnson, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Edward Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Daniel J. Runde, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, James Edward Brown, entered guilty pleas without recommended sentences to one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 and two counts of being a felon in possession of a handgun. Appellant was on probation for kidnapping, aggravated assault, and aggravated burglary when he committed the theft offense and was released on bond from the theft case when he committed the weapons offenses. He subsequently agreed that his probation should be revoked. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a twelve-year sentence for the theft of property conviction, to be served consecutively to the seven-year sentence for the probation revocation. The trial court also ordered the two six-year sentences for being a felon in possession of a handgun to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the other two sentences. He now appeals the alignment of his sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RANDALL CUNNINGHAM

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

George Morton Googe, District Public Defender, and Gregory Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Randall Cunningham.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying all forms of alternative sentencing because he admitted his guilt, and, despite being young, had a good employment history. Upon consideration of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing was not in error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.


CHARLES GRAHAM, aka CHARLES STEVENSON v. MICHAEL DONAHUE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Charles Graham, aka Charles Stevenson, Whiteville, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and David H. Findley, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Charles Graham, aka Charles Stevenson, appeals as of right from the Hardeman County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, the Petitioner argued that his judgment of conviction for tampering with evidence was void because (1) the indictment was defective for failing to include the essential elements of the offense and (2) the facts alleged in the indictment demonstrate that he “mere[ly] abandon[ed]” the marijuana not that he tampered with the evidence. On appeal, he contends that there was a material variance between the indictment on the tampering with evidence count and the proof offered at trial. Following our review, we affirm the order of the habeas corpus court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EMMANUEL BIBB HOUSTON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Christopher P. Westmoreland, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Emmanuel Bibb Houston.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Robert James Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Emmanuel Bibb Houston, stands convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-three years. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for especially aggravated kidnapping and that his sentence was excessive. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


DERICKO JACKSON v. MICHAEL DONAHUE, WARDEN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dericko Jackson, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; and D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Dericko Jackson, appeals as of right from the trial court’s summary dismissal of the petition for writ of habeas corpus relief filed by Petitioner. Petitioner attacks his 1998 convictions in Shelby County for felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. The convictions were the result of guilty pleas apparently negotiated with the State as to the conviction offenses, and length and manner of service of the sentences. The sentences of life imprisonment for felony murder and fifteen years for especially aggravated robbery were ordered to be served consecutively. The three-year sentence for aggravated assault was ordered to be served concurrently with the sentence for felony murder. Each of three judgments provides that Petitioner is allowed 480 days of pre-trial jail credit against the sentence imposed in each judgment for the time period of May 9, 1997 to August 31, 1998. Petitioner asserts that all the convictions are void because the provisions for any pre-trial jail credit in the sentence for especially aggravated robbery results in an illegal sentence. Petitioner argues that as a result he is entitled to habeas corpus relief for all three convictions. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


CRAIG O. MAJORS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Craig O. Majors, Mountain City, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Steven L. Garrett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Craig O. Majors, was convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary. He received an effective twenty-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. State v. Craig O. Majors, No. M2009-00483- CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2483512, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 21, 2010). Petitioner now appeals from the dismissal of his petition for writ of certiorari regarding his especially aggravated kidnapping and attempted aggravated robbery convictions. After our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we conclude that petitioner does not have an appeal as of right from the denial of a petition for writ of certiorari, and we dismiss the appeal.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. COY MCKAUGHAN

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Todd Mosley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Coy McKaughan.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Jennifer Nichols and Terre Fratesi, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court committed reversible error by admitting the video-recorded forensic interview of the child-victim at trial. Specifically, he contends that the admission of the interview was improper for the following reason: Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-7-123, the statute under which the video interview was admitted, is unconstitutional because it is in conflict with the existing rules of evidence and established case law and violates the separation of powers clause of the Tennessee Constitution. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL TERRELL MCKISSACK

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Rob McKinney, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Terrell McKissack.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, District Attorney General; and Sarah Davis and Dina Shabayek, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The defendant, Michael McKissack, was found guilty by a jury of especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and facilitation of attempted carjacking. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress evidence recovered pursuant to a stop of the vehicle he was riding in, asserting that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty-two years for the especially aggravated robbery, ten years for the aggravated robbery, and four years for the facilitation of attempted carjacking. The trial court ordered the defendant’s aggravated robbery and facilitation of attempted carjacking convictions to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to his especially aggravated robbery conviction. The defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress, and the imposition of consecutive sentences. After review, we conclude the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, the trial court correctly denied the motion to suppress, and the imposition of consecutive sentences was proper. We affirm the judgments from the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JOHN BRADFORD ROBINSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Chelsea Nicholson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, John B. Robinson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Senior Counsel; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Beverly White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Defendant, John Bradford Robinson, pled guilty to manufacturing marijuana, sale of marijuana, theft of property valued between $1000 and $10,000, initiation of process to manufacture methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. For these convictions, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective eight-year sentence on probation. After multiple arrests in 2012, the trial court issued a probation violation warrant, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a revocation of his probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.


CHESTER L. WALLACE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Chester L. Wallace, Pikeville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Rober E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B.Thornton, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Dina Shabayek, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Chester L. Wallace, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He alleges that his sentence had expired before an outstanding probation violation warrant was executed and served upon him. Therefore, he claims that the trial court was without jurisdiction to revoke his probation and impose the sentence. Petitioner also argues that the trial court erroneously failed to award him thirty months of pretrial jail credit from his arrest in 2006 to his guilty plea in 2008. He further asserts that the trial court erred by refusing to appoint “new counsel” to represent him at the probation revocation hearing and that the trial court should have appointed counsel for Petitioner’s habeas corpus proceedings. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in the habeas corpus proceedings.


STATE OF TENNESSEE V. DAVID HOKE WARE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kenneth E. Hill, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Hoke Ware.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General; and James F. Goodwin, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

David Hoke Ware (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of burglary of an automobile, twelve counts of identity theft, twelve counts of fraudulent use of a debit or credit card, and two counts of theft over $500. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of two years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered this sentence to be served in incarceration and ordered the Defendant to pay restitution of $1,093.84. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying probation or other alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CEDRIC WAYNE WATKINS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Elaine Heard (on appeal), and Edward J. Gross (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cedric Wayne Watkins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Smith, Deputy Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jeff Burks and Megan King, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Appellant, Cedric Wayne Watkins, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred by limiting the testimony of a defense witness. Following our review, we affirm appellant’s judgment but remand to the trial court to consider whether the judgment requires correction of a clerical error.


BROOKE LEE WHITAKER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Andrew J. Hazley, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brooke Lee Whitaker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WILLIAMS

The petitioner, Brooke Lee Whitaker, pleaded guilty to rape and received a twelve-year sentence. In her petition for post-conviction relief she alleges that she received ineffective assistance of counsel, that her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered, and that trial counsel had a conflict of interest as the former sheriff of Bedford County that prejudiced his representation of the petitioner. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Senate Picks Up Pace for Confirming Judicial Nominees

The number of federal court judicial vacancies has declined significantly in recent weeks after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stepped up the pace for their confirmation, taking advantage of a rules change last year, GavelGrab reports. There are 67 judicial vacancies, compared to 94 at the beginning of last November, before the Senate changed its rules to eliminate the filibuster as a procedural tool that could be used to block most judicial nominees. The confirmations are permitting President Obama to expand his imprint on the federal courts. When he took office, judges appointed by Republican presidents comprised a majority of 10 of the nation’s 13 circuit courts. Today, by contrast, judges selected by Democratic presidents make up a majority on nine circuit courts. 


Legal Aid Takes Initiative to Protect At-Risk Veterans

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, has partnered with Operation Stand Down Nashville (OSDN) and drawn on its Volunteer Lawyer Program to ensure at-risk veterans are receiving the resources they need. The program staffs monthly clinics at OSDN that provide general advice and legal counsel to veterans on a wide range of topics, including custody, drivers’ licenses, divorce and landlord-tenant issues. The Murfreesboro Post has more.


General Session Judges Seek Pay Raise

Davidson County’s General Sessions Court judges asked for a raise of nearly $2,500 during their budget hearing with Metro Council last week, the Tennessean reports. The judges currently make about $165,000. Presiding Judge Bill Higgins pointed out to council members that the Metro Charter requires General Sessions judges be paid at the same rate as their Circuit Court counterparts. While Higgins and the other 10 General Sessions judges make equal to the eight Circuit Court judges’ current pay, the Circuit Court judges, who are paid by the state, are due to get a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, or about $2,478, starting July 1.


3 State Reps. Back Retention Amendment

Three Tennessee Republican state representatives on Monday gave a "yes" vote for three constitutional amendments — involving abortion, judicial selection and a state income tax — scheduled for the November ballot. GOP state representatives Jon Lundberg, Tony Shipley and Timothy Hill gave the three amendments a thumbs up during a Greater Kingsport Republican Women's luncheon, the Times News Net reports.


Franklin to Select New City Judge

The position of Franklin Municipal Court Judge will be vacant for the first time in 27 years following current Judge Tom Taylor’s election to Williamson County General Sessions Court in the May primary, Franklin Home Page reports. Although the process of selecting a new judge is still being discussed among Franklin’s elected officials, the mayor and aldermen hope to fill the position by Sept. 1.


JAS: High Spending in Tenn. Court Race is 'Discouraging'

The national Justice at Stake organization is concerned about preserving the impartiality of Tennessee courts after news broke that the three targeted Tennessee Supreme Court justices — Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark and Justice Sharon Lee — have raised $600,000 for a coordinated campaign to defend against attacks from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who has outlined a plan to oust the three justices. “It’s discouraging to hear that Tennessee’s courts are about to face the kind of special-interest tsunami that is targeting courts across the country,” JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said in a statement released yesterday. “Retention elections are designed to keep partisan politics out of the courts — not turn judges into politicians in black robes." GavelGrab has more.


Court Rejects Clarksville Lawyer’s Challenge to Disciplinary Action

The Tennessee Supreme Court rejected Clarksville-based attorney Fletcher Whaley Long’s constitutional challenge to the professional discipline of a public censure. Long challenged the constitutionality of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, governing disciplinary enforcement of attorneys and contended in part that the Rule violated due process, because it combines investigative, enforcement, and adjudicative authority in the same agency, the Board of Professional Responsibility. Justice Sharon G. Lee explained in the opinion that the Board’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel investigates allegations and institutes disciplinary proceedings if necessary. However, hearing panels composed of independent attorneys appointed by the Board then adjudicate the proceedings. The Administrative Office of the Courts has more.


Williamson County Lawyer Placed On Disability Inactive Status

The law license of Stephanie Derrick Gray was transferred to disability inactive status on June 2. Gray cannot practice law while on disability inactive status. She may return after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing of clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and she is fit to resume the practice of law. View the BPR notice.


Informed Voters Project Town Hall June 9

The Informed Voters Project and the National Constitution Center are hosting a town hall meeting “A Judge’s Perspective on Current Threats to A Fair and Impartial Judiciary" Monday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The event will provide an insider’s look at the challenges state court judges face in charged political environments with Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Justice Barbara J. Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court, and former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus of the Iowa Supreme Court. C-Span is covering the symposium and will air it in July. To see the program real time, visit the IVP website.


Chief Justice Roberts to Give Keynote at ABA Annual Meeting

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be keynote speaker to the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates during the group's Annual Meeting in Boston this August. Roberts will talk about the historical and present-day significance of the Magna Carta, kicking off the ABA’s commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document in 1215. The ABA journal has more.


UPS Puts the Power of Logistics to Work for You

UPS is pleased to help TBA members save time and money through special services and shipping discounts. UPS puts the power of logistics to work for you every day by providing speed, outstanding reliability and technology tools so you can focus on your business -- not on your shipping. Learn more here.


 
 

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.


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